The party for my stepmother was beautiful. A little gem of a fête.
Spring green tablecloths, white chairs, turquoise and mint Chinese lanterns in the bright, bright sun. Gold-rimmed chargers. Low-power wires courtesy our telephone company, I have suggested they bury them, many a time, for some reason no ones’s jumped at the chance.
Below, a well-stocked bar with a bartender to come. I moved the fuchsia into the corner of doom. The blossoms put their heads down and best feet forward as good sports must.
Catering. For 17 people. So wonderfully abundant, thanks to my father. I made Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Olive Oil Cake. Baking is not my strong suit.
It is perhaps surprising, and perhaps not that nobody wore traditional “garden party.” Some came in ornamented black, some in tunics, some in white jeans and silver beads. My middle sister interpreted “floral” all darkly lush but urban. Full-on Northern California.
Shirt is Alice+Olivia, pants from Theory, shoes navy perforated suede from Georgio Armani. This look, blouson plus quasi-fatigues plus elegant flats, bears investigation. My sister also wore antique gold chandelier earrings, but they’re gone with her face into anonymity. We respect privacy as requested.
I wore the ol’ navy MaxMara maxidress,
Stuart Weitzman block heels,
and gold hoops (a little bit like these, i.e. hammered.) Also a low ponytail with one of these elastics, and red toenails. But was having far too much fun to get a photo taken. In fact, the whole evening passed well-nigh unrecorded, so quickly and deeply did we fall into communing and eating and drinking. Nothing raucous; gin and tonics, Sancerre, and California Cabernets from the 1990s. Culturally appropriate.
In the end we put both tables in the shade. The sun was unusually direct for Northern California. The hydrangea wilted a little, my solo daisies, a lot. Somehow all to the good. This is a very intimate look into my family.
The birthday heroine and the jazz guitarist who serenaded us all.
My stepmother is one of those people who do things for you over years and years, always refusing help or recognition. Then one day, you ambush. As in, ‘Aha! We have you in our clutches and we will thank you come hell or high water!” I couldn’t help but think about privilege – not a constant sop to life’s little leaks, nor candy in pockets for children, but unburied all at once to give, a-shining. The evening was lit up by love and history.
I felt gratitude all through my throat.
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